Who says New Caledonia definitely says beaches of dream and it is to the island of the pines that one finds the most beautiful. Here is a small preview of our week on this little piece of paradise.
Our arrival on the Isle of Pines
Our arrival on the island of pines began on the hats. We look from the boat and we spot two heads that tell us something about the pontoon: it is Marine and Guillaume of the blog happytrip. This is not the first time we meet other tourdumondists we follow, but this time, we really did not expect!
We talked and we set out for a campsite that we had spotted. We go a few meters and we meet Audrey and Jean, two other travelers around the world! It is therefore at 6 that we join the camping Atchu where we spend a few days together.
Cocorico and his new friends: little dwarf and bob!
On the way we pass through the bay of Kanumera. Given the color of the water and the idyllic setting, we are obliged to stop for a dip!
Kanumera Bay, fine sand and clear water
We lay down our belongings and our first day is just watching the fish in the water and sunbathing on the sand that looks more like flour, after all, are not we in paradise?
Vao, the center of the island
The island of the pines is composed of several tribes who live quietly, as they say here, do not break the head! The little animation you will find on the island is in the village of Vao. Attention, by animation, hear a cash dispenser, an information point, a grocery store and a local market on Saturday.
The church of Vao
Jacky the sculptor
On the second day we joined the village to begin our visit. We are told of a sculptor in the village, Jacky, apparently very friendly and honest. We decide to go there to see what he is doing. Finally, we spend the day in his company: he carves totems before us, explains the Kanak culture and the operation of the island, we do not see the time pass!
Jacky, in action, sculpts a tortoise for Mary
If you go to the Isle of Pines, do not hesitate, it is worth the detour.Saturday, market day, bingo and bougnat.Saturday is the market day in Vao and we decide to go with Marine, Audrey, Guillaume and Jean.
The tasting of the bougnat
In the morning, we quickly find a car hitchhiking and we discuss with our driver. We had heard of a lady, Jacqueline, who cooks the traditional dish of New Caledonia, the bougnat. We ask her if she knows this Jacqueline and we fall on her in person, a beautiful coincidence!
Despite a busy schedule, she gets us a good bougnat for the evening! The bougnat is an assortment of tubers (cassava, yam, sweet potato) cooked with banana, chicken in a coconut milk.
Delivery of the bougnat in the banana leaves
The cooking is done with the smothered. They dig a hole and make a fire. The fire is then covered with pebbles. The dish is placed in banana leaves which are placed on the pebbles and covered with soil.A good small table for the tasting of the bougnat.We really enjoyed it and the boys even managed to eat 3 plates!
The market and bingo
The market of Vao is not very big but we sell the local products: mangoes, watermelons, snails … We also meet some great people (yes, we repeat but the Caledonians will have marked us).
We buy a jar of mango jam, we talk with the saleswoman. She is told that she is eating a bougnat in the evening and she explains that she is the one who made the bougnat of Koh Lanta!
Marie-Paule, the lady who made the bougnat of Koh Lanta with Marine and Guillaume
At noon, the market turns into bingo. Here, bingo is a bit the national sport and everyone is playing there. We are the only tourists with the locals and we say that we can not leave New Caledonia without playing there.
We buy several cards, we try to follow the game because here there are some peculiarities:
One is called one
5 is called “small five”, the 6 “small 6”
10 is called “apo ten”, the 20 “apo twenty”
the 11 says “glued one”, the 22 “glued two”
The numbers follow very quickly.
To this you add a good local accent and it gives a good part of traditional bingo. We do not win the first game but the winner offers us his lot (fries !!!). We play several games and we end up having the BINGO! One wins a big watermelon that one will taste in the evening for dessert.
BINGO! We win a beautiful watermelon for the evening!
The pirogue ride and the natural swimming pool
One of the tourist activities of the island is the canoe trip. we leave the bay of Saint Joseph to go up the bay of Upi in pirogue. The bay is splendid and you will surely have the chance to see turtles and shark fins.
Small canoe trip on the bay of Upi
Despite a capricious weather, we still appreciate this excursion.
After crossing the bay of Upi, you have to walk for 45 minutes in the forest to reach the natural pool. Again, the weather is very cloudy and the colors are not there! Rest assured, even with a covered sky, the place is still dreaming!